On a hot afternoon in the dog days of summer, is there really anything better than cracking a knife through one of these ruby-red fleshed lovelies? I mean, c’mon! Look how beautiful the watermelon is!
Watermelons are more than 92% water per 100g and only 6% sugar. In fact, this is verified according to the glycemic index, where white sugar sets the highest bar at 100, while watermelon teeters the scale at a lowly 5. What’s more is that this melon has many powerful micronutrients that provide some super benefits. Here are just three . . . .
It’s Rich in Lycopene.
Lycopene is usually associated with tomatoes, but really found in almost all crimson colored fruits and veggies. Tomatoes and watermelons just happen to be loaded with it. This makes watermelons particularly helpful for preventing and recovery from oxidative damage.
Quick Oxidation Refresher: Oxidation is a type of cellular stress also known as the process of free-radical damage, which is common in many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, pulmonary complications, osteoporosis, and cancer. Lycopene significantly restored the antioxidant enzymes including glutathione peroxidase: “It is hard to overstate the importance of glutathione, […] which directly scavenges diverse oxidants: superoxide anion, hydroxyl radical, nitric oxide, and carbon radicals.” (see Footnote 2).
Watermelon is a great source of Vitamins A, B6, Beta Carotenes and Vitamin C in addition to the mineral potassium (which lowers blood pressure and helps all our organs function better). It also contains other plant phytochemicals such as citrulline, which benefits both the heart and circulation.
A Quick Lycopene “Warning”
While watermelons account for the intake of more lycopene across the US than any other fruit. However, consuming 30 mg or more of lycopene per day can give rise to unpleasant side effects such as bloating, edema, or nausea. In fact, you may even self-inflict an allergy. So get lycopene, but try and stay below that 30mg. How much is this? Depending on how rich in color of the fruit (the darker red, the more lycopene), a 1.5 cup serving of watermelon provides 13-19 grams of lycopene. So, if your kids get a tummy ache after gobbling it up by the pool, now you know why!
Watermelon Fights Scurvy
Unfortunately, there’s been a reemergence of these simple nutritional deficiencies due to today’s processed food ‘lifestyles.’
In one case, a 47-year old man was admitted into the ER experiencing “confusion, lethargy, anorexia, fatigue, weakness, a diffuse nonpruritic perifollicular rash” etc.; he’d lost 13 pounds over 6 months! The doctors did all kinds of tests (platelets, liver function, fecal examinations, ultrasounds and urine cultures), but came back negative.
It wasn’t until a nutritionist was brought in that the culprit was discovered! According to that nutritionist, not only did “he acknowledge drinking 8 to 10 beers per day. The patient was not taking any supplements or vitamins. His diet was very limited in fresh fruits and vegetables. He did not like eating seafood or fish.” Emphasis, mine.
Turns out that his compounding “pathologic features” (ew!) were consistent with a massive vitamin C deficiency — yep, scurvy. And, scurvey can be fatal! Thankfully: it’s easily preventable. Learn more about vitamin C here by reading my blog about orange juice (link to orange juice blog).
So, watermelon is just one way to get absorbable vitamin C. And, citrus fruits (link to oranges), of course remain the most often recognized vitamin C powerhouses. Interestingly, some studies are investigating links between celiac disease and scurvy. Even the Talmud / Old Testiment advocate treating these diseases similarly.
Here’s Where YOU Can Help, Dear Reader . . . become a health detective
For two years, I’ve scoured the internet seeking sources that can back up the health and benefit claims of fruits, vegetables, and supplements (sometimes called “boost”).
In the chart below are the health claims I and others have discovered about watermelons. Where you see a footnote, you’ll find a link to the source. If there is not a footnote, then that means that the specific health claim is made, but neither I or anyone I know has been able to locate sources of research or anecdote to backup the claim.
So, if you are aware of a direct source of research or anecdotes to back up the claims, please post them in the comments. I’ll check them out and if they meet our standards, I’ll make sure that they’re included in the next edition of the blog and give you a shout-out!
Reported Health Benefit Claims of Watermelon:
And last but not least:
Is Watermelon Is Better for . . . Well, You Know . . . Than Viagra?
Remember when we mentioned citrulline above? Well, the citrulline in watermelon is the citruline is converted into the amino acid L-arginine by the body. This causes a rise in our nitric oxide levels, which in turn has a relaxing effect on the blood vessels.
So guess what? There was a study done at Texas A&M University shows that this relaxing effect on the blood vessels causes a similar effect to what activities Viagra, instigates. That’s right — consumption of watermelon may enhance libido. So if you’re (or your guy) are feeling a bit “romantical”? Juice a watermelon!